Amber Halbert Childress: The ACA has given many small business owners and women entrepreneurs a safety net

Amber Halbert ChildressFulfillment in my career was an intangible dream I never thought I would achieve. For years, I was clocking in and out of a job I didn’t enjoy for the sole purpose of providing health benefits for myself and my children, and it was beginning to wear me down and take away the joy in my life. After the Affordable Care Act was signed into law I able to take a chance and become a small business owner without fear of financial ruin due to a medical catastrophe. The security of having medical benefits for my family and me gave me the opportunity to become the business woman I had always dreamed of.

Women entrepreneurs and women entrepreneurs of color are one of the fastest-growing demographics in small business and contribute greatly to our economy. According to the National Association of Women Business Owners, in 2014, 7.8 million firms in American owned by women grew to 9.1 million firms across the country by 2016. Women owned businesses have the buying power of over $1.5 trillion per year in sales receipts.

Having the ACA has given many small business owners and women entrepreneurs a safety net of financial security to maintain their businesses, pay employees living wages and provide health care to all parties. According to the US Census in 2015 women owned businesses had more than 7.9 million employees and paid $217 billion in salaries.

If the ACA is repealed, millions of newly insured small business owners, employees and self employed entrepreneurs could lose their health care. If those businesses fail because of medical bankruptcy, sudden illness and loss of work would make our local  economies suffer.

In September of 2016 I needed a life-saving procedure. Had I not been properly insured because of the ACA, I would have most likely lost my business due to liens, medical bankruptcy or continued medical issues hindering my ability to keep a traditional job.

Then, in July of 2018, I almost died from pulmonary embolisms, I had blood clots on both sides of my lungs. Fortunately, I can now afford insurance, and I’m recovering. That said, I’m paying $1,472/month for my insurance, and last year I paid $32,000 out of pocket for my premiums and care my family needed—which, if we had a universal health care system, is money that could go to train a young adult part time in a much-needed construction trade—something we can’t afford to do with these health care bills.

We are the small business that fuels our economy, but not if we can’t hire more employees because we’re crippled by extreme premium costs

I am so grateful to the elected officials who have fought hard for our basic human right to be healthy, see a doctor, have quality insurance, and live without fear of financial ruin so we can better our communities by stimulating our local economies and achieving our dreams of being small business owners.

Amber Halbert Childress is the owner of High Ridge Roofing and Construction in Oregon.